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Essex Leopards coach Baker looking forward to Storm clash

PUBLISHED: 16:00 25 February 2019

Essex Leopards Lee Hodges in action against Worthing Thunder (Pic: Paul Phillips)

Essex Leopards Lee Hodges in action against Worthing Thunder (Pic: Paul Phillips)

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Leopards coach Thomas Baker is looking forward to his side hosting rivals Hemel Storm at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday.

Essex Leopards Asante Sandiford in action against Worthing Thunder (Pic: Paul Phillips)Essex Leopards Asante Sandiford in action against Worthing Thunder (Pic: Paul Phillips)

They head into the clash looking to bounce back from a 94-90 defeat to leaders Worthing Thunder last weekend.

“It all comes down to this in the head-to-head for the year against our local rivals Hemel,” Baker said.

“Losing by one in the trophy and winning by two in the league have set up this final game as a game that has bragging rights attached to it.

“For us it is another chance to solidify our place in the playoffs, for Hemel it is a chance to continue to distance themselves from relegation pack.

“We know (Robert) Youngblood will have his side fired up for this one, and I am sure he will be hoping that recent injuries won’t play a part in the team they bring to Brentwood.

“For me it is a chance for us to show the growth and development we have had this season and continue to look for ways to improve as we enter the playoff stretch.

“Each game now is important but this one has a little bit extra added to it. I am looking forward to it and so are the guys, it should be a great game.”

A big crowd is expected at the Brentwood Centre, and if the game is even close to being as good as they two meetings between the sides in Hertfordshire this season, the fans are in for a treat.

There was heartbreak for Leopards as Asante Sandiford missed a pair of last second free-throws to exit the National Trophy with a 96-95 defeat when they met in January, but a fine performance a fortnight ago saw a Findlay Wood three-pointer followed by a pair of Sandiford foul shots seal a 101-99 league victory.

Storm have been surprise strugglers in Division ne this season, and they will go into the weekend still in relegation trouble as they sit tenth with a 6-11 record.

The signing of former BBL defensive specialist Trayvonn Wright should prove enough for them to avoid the drop, and he recorded a 30 point, 12 rebound double-double when the sides met a fortnight ago.

Storm will bring a whole leap of ex-Big Cats to Brentwood led by coach Robert Youngblood along with Will Ashby, Bode Adebola, Jamie Hayes, Shaq Lewis and they even include their former waterboy Jack Burnell.

Baker’s team are also in action on Saturday when they visit a resurgent Leicester Warriors.


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